Except for a recent Rutgers University study* finding most British newspapers tended to advocate the United Kingdom exit the European Union, Gateway Journalism Review has found little if any research indicating how the media played the Brexit story. While no social science data were apparently collected on the American media’s coverage of this issue, anecdotal…
By SHANE GRABER / Newsrooms in this country have known for nearly half a century that coverage of African-American communities needs fixing. In 1968, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, argued that newsrooms should provide more inclusive reporting on racial issues in response to a summer of nationwide inner-city social disorder the summer before. Last year, the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson provided ample opportunity to see whether the news media had improved its newsgathering sensitivity. According to many observers, it came up short. In a dozen in-depth interviews I conducted for research at the University of Texas-Austin, African-American respondents said that Ferguson news coverage in the wake of the shooting once again did nothing to improve credibility or build better relationships with diverse communities. “In society, trust is not given at the drop of a hat,” a 34-year-old a real estate developer in Chicago told the paper’s author. “So how could media assume a single media performance during a single news event is strong enough to significantly affect trust? The Michael Brown story didn’t affect the way I felt, feel, or will feel about the media.”
By WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The Justice Department’s twin reports on Ferguson this March raised two disturbing questions about the media: How did so many news organizations fail for so long to realize that “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was a myth? How did so many news organizations fail for so many years to uncover deeply unconstitutional police and court practices? One would hope those questions would prompt soul-searching. For the most part, they haven’t. The national media are on to the next police shooting with no sign of introspection. False or misleading stories from last summer remain online uncorrected. Social media also barrel ahead, clinging to preconceived ideologies in a cyber-world that is often fact free.
TRIPP FROHLICHSTEIN / St. Louis television viewers watching KTVI Channel 2 were recently given two sharply different versions of the opening of the area’s first full-sized Tim Horton’s in the St. Louis suburb of Maplewood. Covering the opening of the first location of the chain is appropriate, but in terms of good journalism, Channel 2 provided “the best of times” and the “worst of times” with its coverage. Horton’s is a Canadian chain that sells coffee and pastries and other food items. Staking a St. Louis area foothold with its first store at 7468 Manchester Road in Maplewood was a legitimate news story. On the night of June 22, during the 9 p.m. newscast, Channel 2 anchor Mandy Murphey did a solid story on the event. But a day later, Channel 2’s Lisa Hart offered what seemed to be a commercial for Horton’s during the 11 a.m. newscast.
WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Richard Dudman, the chief Washington Correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the 1970s, almost died in Cambodia – twice. Now, at age 97, he looks back at his reporting and says he may have been too easy on Pol Pot – the murderous dictator of Cambodia.
TRIPP FROHLICHSTEIN / St. Louis TV stations need to be more honest with their viewers. Frequently, they present stories as new that are actually a day or more old. The latest example occurred on KSDK (Channel 5) at noon on June 18. The story was about an incident the day before when two planes began taking off at the same time at Midway Airport in Chicago. Fortunately, a collision was averted. But anchor Kay Quinn read, “We have new information at this noon hour about just how serious a near disaster this was.” However, she provided no information that hadn’t aired on the news the night before. Nor did she give any indication as to “how serious it was.” She did not even tell viewers how close of a call it was (or wasn’t). Repeating the story is not the problem. The problem comes when viewers are deceived by “sensationalistic” and inaccurate writing.
GEORGE SALAMON / Writing about Marie Antoinette, Judith Thurman commented in a 2006 article in the New Yorker that the woman famous for a remark she never uttered (“Let them eat cake”) is “periodically reviled or celebrated.” The same could be said about the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton since she stepped into the national limelight as Bill Clinton’s wife during his 1992 bid for the presidency. Now that she is campaigning for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, many publications and websites devote much of their coverage to one or the other of these familiar approaches. Recent opinion pieces in the online publications of the liberal New Republic and the conservative Washington Free Beacon provide a sort of “comfort food,” the first for Clinton admirers and the second for Clinton detractors. But neither provides much food for thought based on solid information, history and context.
by JOHN JARVIS / In almost three decades as a print journalist, I never called out a fellow headline writer for something he or she crafted to introduce a story. Until now. What I never did was write a headline so egregiously bad that readers threatened to yank their subscriptions over what I wrote. Someone at Texas Monthly Magazine did, however.